Tim's creative juices flow in Big Apple

G rowing up, Tim Brown always wanted to visit New York.

"I felt a certain magnetism to the place as one of the major cultural centres in the world."

What better place to go and apply the skills he learned in art school, Brown thought.

"It's one of the best places in the world but also the hardest place in the world," the former Spotswood College student says.

Speaking to me on the phone from his parents' Tongaporutu home, Brown says he's back home while he waits for his visa application which, if successful, will allow him to stay in the United States another three years.

He's been there for a year and is thriving in a creative scene he could not have found in New Zealand.

"It's a huge pool of opportunity but an even bigger pool of talent.

"If you go and really hustle you can find yourself in some extraordinary positions."

As a spatial designer and artist, Brown's latest creation is an immersive art show, which combines projected animations and music.

The concept for the show, Mind's Eye, started with 2d multimedia collages that investigated Brown's disillusionment with what is happening around him in what he views as a greed-driven consumerist Western culture.

He says the result of this is widespread ignorance among the modern-day proletariat, of which he has first-hand experience from his years as a factory worker in South Auckland.

"Everyone's got an iPhone, we're living out of these machines. Everything's an app or a website. I just felt immersed in a consumerist machine."

Brown says he doesn't reject the consumerist culture because he is undeniably part of it, but it makes him uncomfortable.

"I get overwhelmed by thoughts of being this incredible privileged person; I feel like a giant hypocrite."

This frustration emerges in his artwork, which he describes as "industrial and quite violent" and a means of bringing together all the strands of his creative life and creating a visual language.

"It helps me process thoughts and feelings surrounding that."

When he left school he started a four-year cabinet-making apprenticeship, where he says he was a boy thrown into a man's world.

His unease with consumerism stems from these years, where he says he saw it from the inside.

"I worked in these really harsh conditions with really unhappy people.

"I was unhappy with myself creating consumer products for wealthy people."

Needing to free himself of the unhappiness he found in factory work, Brown went to Unitec in Auckland and completed a degree in spatial design.

After a year in New York, where he has found an incredible group of talented people, the city is starting to feel like home, he says.

Rather than being disheartened by the abundant talent and competition, Brown revels in it.

"There's a lot going on, but I don't feel like I'm floundering.

"I feel like I'm rubbing shoulders with the best.

"It elevates your perception of what's possible."

His love for New York hasn't diminished his affection for his homeland.

"The surf in Taranaki is world class.

"In terms of landscape and physical beauty New Plymouth can go toe-to-toe with anywhere I've been in the world."

While New York was dark and industrial, Taranaki has an intense beauty and the people are incredibly relaxed and open, he says.

"It's extremes, but I'm an extreme person, so it suits me well."

Taranaki Daily News